Pub Rants

Top Dealmaker?

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STATUS: What a way to kick off 2008! First I get an offer for a project I have on submission which is how I always like to start the year. Then I get the big, big news. Ally Carter’s I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU lands on the New York Times paperback bestseller list at #4 and CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY, which has already spent 5 weeks on the NYT hardcover list, is back on coming in at #9. Woohoo!!!!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I ALONE by Live

Thank you all for all your lovely blog comments on my last entry of 2007. I did have to chuckle though. Selling 22 books over the course of one year is not actually a lot. I have many agent friends who sell double or triple that number (although I have to add here that they’ve all been in the biz for a lot longer than I have).

It’s not a high volume and I have to admit that I don’t see myself as ever being a high volume agent. I don’t take on that many clients or that many projects in a given year so there’s a limited quantity of projects to sell. I don’t want to say quality over quantity because that’s not necessarily the case. I have many agent friends doing a quantity of high quality projects and deals. I imagine as my clients grow their careers, the number will increase over the years just on repeat deals alone.

But here’s what’s interesting and why I bring this up. Publishers Marketplace has a new feature called Top Dealmakers on their website. Let me tell you, this has caused some interesting consternation amongst agent friends and here’s why. Our agent reputations are the key to getting future good clients; we want to be known as top dealmakers! Publishers Marketplace can only rank top dealmakers on quantifiable criteria. In other words, they can’t verify that deals actually sold for the money highlighted by the editor or agent (or by the authors themselves) in the announced deal. The only criteria they can use for rating top dealmakers is based on the number of total sales in a given period (and that is, of course, only if the deals are reported). Many agents don’t report deals for a variety of reasons.

I like to think that might be the reason why Michael Cader implemented this new feature to begin with—to encourage deal reporting. Very smart on his part.

But it also means, quite sadly I have to say, that I’ll probably never be a top dealmaker on Pub Marketplace. Right now, I come in at #40 for Fiction as a whole, #26 for women’s/romance, #15 for children’s (that ain’t shabby I guess!), #8 for young adult.

You get the picture. And I have to admit, this entry is solely self-serving. Big smile here. I might not sell a lot of books in any given year but because that is true, I also have to sell what I take on for more money and that’s not captured in the Top Dealmaker ranking.

Is it better for an agent to sell many projects (but all in nice deals) or just a few projects in good, significant, or major deals—in Deal Lunch terms? And the answer to this is purely subjective because it really depends on how each individual sees it.

Unfortunately, Top Dealmaker on Pub Marketplace can’t use that criterion for obvious reasons (although when I was chatting with Michael before the break, we did talk about it).

Maybe that needs to be my 2008 goal. More deals and all for a lot more money. I’m sure my clients wouldn’t say no to that!

28 Responses

  1. sb said:

    congrats on Carter’s book! my students, or rather my female students, are all goo goo ga ga over her. 🙂

  2. Anonymous said:

    Thanks for the info Kristin–

    Can you expand on this: “Many agents don’t report deals for a variety of reasons.”

    If agents are concerned with their reputations- why wouldn’t they report all their deals?


  3. karen wester newton said:

    Welcome back! Hope you had a good vacation.

    Interesting bit on the reporting of sales. In the world of speculative fiction, we tend to look to Locus for info on book deals, but it is always very brief information.

  4. Beth said:

    Welcome back, and happy 2008, Kristin! I lurk daily, and often recommend your blog to other writers. You always present relevant information in an interesting and amusing way. I hope the coming year brings even more success for you, and your authors. Thanks for sharing your time and experience with us!

  5. Polenth said:

    The top dealmakers comes across to me as more of a who is busiest list. I’d worry that an agent right at the top might not have time for a new client. So being a bit further down might not be such a bad thing.

  6. Dave Kuzminski said:

    What a coincidence. P&E is also looking for more information. We hope to report agent memberships or recognition in various organizations such as RWA and we’re also considering getting tallies of sales for at least the past year if the agents will permit us to post a range.

  7. Kim Stagliano said:

    Congrats to Ally Carter and you.

    UGH! I just got lost in that top dealmakers section. Is it still the year 2008? Musn’t go back! Way too many permutations to search, I’ll never get any writing done. Maybe just one more look….

    Happy New Year!


  8. Reid said:

    Happy 2008 to you!

    Personally, beyond a certain point, I’m not concerned with how many deals an agent has made. All I want to see is that they’re making sales.

    Face it, when you have (or are looking for) an agent, in the early stages you don’t care who else is getting paid. YOu just want that agent to be able to sell your work.

    All I’m looking for is evidence that an agent is working, getting deals, and making the contacts I’m not there to make. I’d prefer that you get me on Oprah during sweeps month, but as long as we’re all working for the same goal, I’m fine with it.

    I’ve laid off of the submissions for the holiday season, when would the best time to send something to you?

    Take care!


  9. Heidi the Hick said:

    I agree with Reid: I just want to know that an agent is making sales.

    I admit though… what really matters to me, and I hope this doesn’t sound shallow, is the agent’s website. I want to see an attention to quality and professionalism.

    If the agency has a cluttered, hard to read website, I have a hard time trusting them with my story!

  10. Music Critic said:

    I’ve been reading your most excellent blog for a while now and I’m always captivated by your iPod song selections. Therefore I feel it is my duty to critique your music selections.

    I have to say you are starting off 2008 with some quality entertainment. Almost anything by Live gets you a good score. On a scale of #1 – 10 best sellers, I Alone comes in at 2 (#1 being the best). Please don’t come back tomorrow and ruin the streak with anything by Hanson.

  11. Mark Wise said:

    Congratz on your deal! I don’t ever put much stock in those types of lists since they tend to be so biased or not truely representative of the market.

    So just keep doing what you do and you will be fine.

    Thanks for the blog, btw!

  12. Anonymous said:

    Stop claiming you don’t rep women better than men. As of yet, isn’t Bobby the Brain Heenan the only male author (term used loosely here) you’ve repped? Those lists and your rankings on them are quite telling. You’re a romance/chick-lit-young adult agent. Own it. Think of all the time you’ll save sci-fi/fantasy writers, when you just admit that and post it. How much business can you stand to lose?

  13. The Proud Anonymous said:

    My name’s Beth, too. Or maybe it’s Tony, or Blaire. Possibly Ralph, I feel like a Ralph today. Get bent, Beth. The web’s anonymous, get over it. Where’s the proof that you’re Beth, huh toughguy? Stop ragging on the anons for being cowardly when everyone’s pissing in the same pool with the same amount of anonymity. You’re a jerk-off for commenting.

  14. Linnea said:

    I don’t think it matters much to me or any other author whether or not you’re the top dealmaker. The most flattering description I read about you is that you are a ‘shark’ – a nice shark but a shark nontheless. I like sharks when they’re on my side. They eat up all the little fishes and own their part of the ocean. I’m sure this nice shark will reach any goals she sets for herself.

  15. Tammie said:

    Great post on Publisher’s Marketplace’s Top Dealmakers. I to wondered how they came to create that list and as someone who uses PM a lot, I wondered how agents felt about it.

    Like the earlier post I would wonder to though why all deals weren’t reported? What would be the benefit of not reporting it?

    And welcome back and happy 08 everyone – even those rude anon folks.

  16. Mags said:

    My name’s Beth, too! Oh, it isn’t, is it? I get that wrong sometimes.

    I will remember never to go swimming at proud anon’s house. Not ever!

  17. Anonymous said:

    But you’re a one-person business. How can you possibly take on, say, 50 deals in a year and still be alive by the end of the year? Plus, wouldn’t the quality suffer, where some of the authors in your stable might get short shrift when it comes to attention to different things?

    Quality over quantity makes more sense to me.

    ~Nancy Beck

  18. Termagant 2 said:

    Happy ’08, y’all.

    A totally unrelated to sales comment: those covers are cute enough, but what is possessing all the publishers to create covers that cut part or all of the models’ heads off? Is this practice intended to say the main character’s looks are classified, and not for you the lowly reader to know? Or do they pay the models less if they amputate the photo just above or below the chin?

    Inquiring minds want to know. If I don’t get an answer in the next day or two, I will institute my secret boycott of all covers that don’t have the entire face portrayed thereon.

  19. Dave Wood said:

    Congratulations on 2007!

    ‘Top Deal Maker,’ especially based solely on number of deals, doesn’t seem a very useful indicator — maybe even something of a caution. 22 sales is 2 a month when adjusted for conferences, etc. That seems an awesome statistic and implies to me a certain level of personal attention: with brainstorming alternate titles, for example. And, as you say, sales probably get easier as your authors gain experience, confidence, and recognition.

    I bet 2008 will be even better.

  20. DebbieKW said:

    I was happy when I stumbled across the “Top Dealmaker” function several weeks ago. It let me know that half of the people I’d sent queries to (not that many yet) may have sold fantasy in the past but not recently. I’m not sure exactly what that means yet in terms of desirablity since many of those reported sells were from well-established authors, but it was still nice to know. Also, you’ll note that not all of the top-top dealmakers are even accepting unpublished authors or unsolicited queries at this time.

    So, like other people said, it doesn’t really matter to me where you are on that list. It’s just nice to see if an agent I’d already selected out is actively selling in my genre. If an agent is not showing on the list at all when they want to be, then they might have cause to be concerned. I am targeting known sellers in my genre before those that aren’t unless they have something like a great blog or website to draw my attention.

    That’s just me, though.

  21. Maggie Stiefvater said:

    Speaking of fantasy/sci-fi, who invited the troll to the comments section?

    Congrats, Kristin, well-deserved on both your parts! Hope it is an indicator for the rest of your year.

    And personally, for me, I’d rather have an agent who was quality over quantity — not so much because of the quality bit but because I think it would lend itself towards more personal attention for each client.

  22. Anonymous said:

    Regarding covers:

    It is not uncommon for publishers to crop models’ faces for covers for a couple of reasons.

    1. many authors (and publishers) think it’s important for readers to develop their own mental picture of what a character looks like. (and, in fact, for readers to feel free to picture themselves as the character more easily.)

    2. for series books, there is usually a very real possibility that the same model will not be available for all the books, so by cropping the faces, they can change models more easily. (In fact, the two books above have different models.)

    Hope that helps.